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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Flourescence spectroscopy of trapped molecular ions Wright, Kenneth Charles


This thesis describes the development of a unique instrument capable of detecting fluorescence emission from large gas phase molecular ions trapped in a three-dimensional quadrupole ion trap. The hypothesis that has formed the basis of this work is the belief that fluorescence spectroscopy can be combined with ion trap mass spectrometry to probe the structure of gas phase molecular ions. The ion trap provides a rarefied environment where fluorescence experiments can be conducted without interference from solvent molecules or impurities. Although fluorescence was not detected during preliminary experiments, two significant experimental challenges associated with detecting the gas phase fluorescence of ions were discovered. First, gas phase ions were vulnerable to photodissociation and low laser powers were necessary to avoid photodissociation. Since fluorescence emission is directly proportional to laser intensity, a lower laser power limits the fluorescence signal. Second, the fluorescence emission was not significantly Stokes shifted from the excitation. The lack of Stokes shift meant the small fluorescence signal must be detected in the presence of a large amount of background scatter generated by the excitation. Initially, this background was seven orders of magnitude higher than the analytical signal ultimately detected. A specially designed fiber optic probe was inserted between the electrodes of the ion trap to stop light scattered off the outside surfaces of the trap from reaching the detector. The inside surfaces of the ion trap were coated black to further reduce the amount of scattered light collected. These innovations helped reduced the background by six orders of magnitude and fluorescence emission from rhodamine-6G was detected. Pulse counting experiments were used to optimize fluorescence detection. The effects of trapping level, laser power, and irradiation time were investigated and optimized. The instrument developed in this work not only allows for the detection of fluorescent photons, but the sensitivity is high enough for the light to be dispersed and an emission spectrum recorded. The emission spectra of rhodamine-6G and 5-carboxyrhodamine-6G ions reported in this thesis represent the first spectra recorded from large molecular ions confined in a quadrupole ion trap. Finally, anti-Stokes fluorescence from rhodamine- 6G was also detected.

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